The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

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There are 3.196 billion people on social media today. That is nearly half of the entire population of the planet. Social media can no longer be considered a mere passing fad; it has cemented itself as an integral part of our daily lives.

It was inevitable that marketing would become commonplace on social media. Wherever society goes, business and commerce follow close behind.

However, the sheer scope of social media can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of active networks out there, each with its own peculiarities and distinct etiquette. A marketing team can spend countless hours just trying to figure out the right networks for their brand.

This social media guide will provide an overview of the biggest social networks around, and how to approach marketing on them:

Facebook

Overview

It’s been 12 years since Facebook was opened to the public in 2006, and it remains the undisputed king of social networks. No other network comes close to rivaling its user base of 2.23 billion monthly active users.

Because it is the most widely used platform across the world, Facebook is a hotbed for brand marketing. You can find just about any demographic on it.

Business Manager

Before you start marketing on Facebook, you need to set up an account with their Business Manager. All you have to do is click “Create Account,” and then enter your business name, real name and email address. Once you hit “Finish,” it’s ready to use.

The best part about Business Manager is that it provides you with a dashboard to organize everything. There’s no need to have multiple tabs cluttering your browser window.

Facebook Live

Live-streaming video has taken the internet by storm over the last couple of years. Websites like Twitch.tv attract millions of viewers each day. There’s something enthralling about watching unedited video of an event as it occurs, where anything could happen at any moment.

Facebook Live offers an engaging and unique way to connect to your audience. It gives you a chance to interact with them directly, while showing them the real human faces behind the brand.

Groups

Another way to communicate more closely with your audience is through Facebook groups. These are pages in which people with shared interests can chat freely and share whatever they think others in the group might appreciate. You can join a preexisting group or make your own. Just keep in mind that doing the latter will require moderation duties on your part.

Advertising

No other company can boast the targeting capabilities that Facebook has developed over the last several years. Their ability to effectively home in on specific demographics is unparalleled. That’s why Facebook ads are a wise investment.

There is even the option to create Lookalike Audiences once you’ve found one receptive to your brand. What that means is that Facebook will search for adjacent audiences with similar behaviors that you can target as well.

Google+

Overview

Google+ has a bit of a mixed reputation. That’s mostly due to the hype surrounding its release in 2011, which touted it as a Facebook usurper. Needless to say, it never lived up to those lofty ambitions. It only has about 395 million active accounts as of 2018.

Yet, despite its smaller user base, there are many reasons why Google+ is still a worthwhile platform for marketers.

Integration

The best thing about Google+ is its integration with Google’s other services. It’s incredibly easy to connect it with your Gmail account, Google Hangouts or Google Docs. That gives it a versatility that few other networks have.

Search Engine Optimization

Another major reason to join Google+ is that it can boost your SEO. Simply having a Google+ account can improve and refine the results on any Google search for your business, as it gives their algorithms more information to work with.

Instagram

Overview

Instagram is the rising star of the social networking world right now. Launched in 2010, it took only two years for the platform to get acquired by Facebook in a massive $1 billion deal. Today it has roughly 1 billion monthly active users.

There are many reasons why Instagram is currently considered the best network for marketers. For one, it has the highest engagement rates of all, even surpassing its parent company Facebook. Content posted on Instagram has a higher chance of receiving likes and comments than content posted anywhere else.

Additionally, around 80% of all Instagram users follow a business, and at least 30% have bought a product after seeing it on Instagram first. That’s an impressive conversion rate no matter how you slice it.

Content

It’s important to remember that Instagram is a network based around visual content. Success on the platform is almost entirely determined by the quality of your output. It’s what brings users to your page and wins them over as followers.

Most posts on Instagram are pictures, whether they are photographs or illustrations. You can also upload video content. Videos have been steadily gaining in prevalence since Instagram expanded the length limit from 15 seconds to 60 seconds.

Hashtags

Hashtags are essential on Instagram. If you don’t include hashtags in your posts, they aren’t going to show up in search results.

You can include up to 30 hashtags, but about a dozen seems to be the sweet spot. You should try to do a mixture of both widely used and niche hashtags. Don’t use any that aren’t relevant to your content, though. That’s considered spam and will ensure you are ignored.

Influencer Marketing

Instagram features a wide array of influencers across different fields. You can find fashion experts, sports photographers, tech critics, travel bloggers, foodies, athletes, comedians, models and an unlimited number of other trendsetters in any niche.

If you discover an influencer who you think might mesh well with your brand, don’t be afraid to reach out to them for a collaboration. Perhaps you can invite them to do an Instagram takeover, or send them products to review and feature in a post.

Just be sure to be upfront about any partnerships you form. Instagram has been cracking down on accounts that refuse to disclose their endorsement deals.

Instagram Stories

When it was first introduced, Instagram Stories was a shameless copy of Snapchat. It has since gone on to surpass its predecessor. There are now over 400 million active users on Stories every day.

Instagram Stories is perfect for sharing behind-the-scenes material, spur-of-the-moment snapshots and limited-time deals. Consider it an opportunity to have fun and forget about being polished for a moment.

Facebook Integration

Make sure to take advantage of Instagram’s Facebook integration as well. The same ads can be run across both platforms. All you have to do is create an ad through Facebook Business Manager, and then put a check in the corresponding box to run it on your Instagram Feed or Stories.

LinkedIn

Overview

LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks, and is still going strong. Started in 2002, LinkedIn has steadily built up its base of over 500 million users.

What sets LinkedIn apart from other networks is that it is primarily geared around business, employment, job postings, work histories and other professional concerns. So if you have any information or opportunities to share about those topics, then your brand’s presence will be welcomed.

Advertising

LinkedIn has targeted advertising options that are mostly comparable with other networks. However, you do have to make a bid for your audience of choice, which means there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll win an advertising space.

Given the nature of the website, LinkedIn should be regarded as a prime advertising spot for business-to-business companies. In fact, a study conducted by Social Media Examiner indicated that it is the most effective network for B2B marketers.

Medium

Overview

Medium is a strange beast when it comes to social platforms. It’s not quite a network per se, but more of a hybrid between a blog host and a news outlet.

The website was initially created in 2012 by the co-founder of Twitter, in order to provide a way around the network’s restrictive character limit. Medium is now well recognized and used by many people across the internet, with over 150 million monthly visitors on average.

Medium is open for anybody to use to publish their writing. As a result, it’s popular among amateur journalists and social commentators. It’s also been successfully used by marketers to find audiences.

Publishing Content

Medium is remarkably simple to use. All you need to do is sign in and create a profile, and then you’re all ready to go.

The best approach to marketing on Medium is to publish informative and entertaining pieces of writing. You can either reuse articles that you already have on your website or create content specifically for the platform.

Pinterest

Overview

Pinterest is another platform that’s not really a social network by any traditional definition. Its main function isn’t to facilitate communication; rather, it’s more of a digital bulletin board where people can fabricate a web of “pinned” links to images, videos, lists and articles. These boards can either be made public or private.

One thing that makes Pinterest notable is the demographic makeup of its user base. As of 2017, the ratio of female to male users on the website is 70% to 30%. This should make it a priority for any brand seeking to attract more women customers.

Influencer Marketing

Influencers on Pinterest are somewhat distinct from their counterparts on other networks. In this context, the word describes users who gain attention for their ability to curate content and put together cohesive boards.

Pinterest influencers are just as receptive to partnerships as any other influencer, though. For instance, let’s say your brand designs and manufactures women’s clothing. You’d more than likely be able to find an influencer willing to put your products on one of their boards.

Advertising

You can purchase Buyable Pins on Pinterest. These pins allow users to purchase your products without leaving the site. Additionally, these pins can be turned into Promoted Pins, which increases their visibility and guarantees that they will be seen by more viewers.

Quora

Overview

Quora was founded in 2009 by a pair of former Facebook employees, and then made accessible to the public a year later. It is intended as a digital meeting place where information is generated through asking questions and openly sharing knowledge and opinions.

With over 200 million monthly visitors, Quora must be doing something right.

Questions and Answers

Marketing on Quora is tricky, but possible. It requires you to be an active and serious member of its community. While sharing links to relevant blog posts is fine, you shouldn’t be too obvious with your self-promotion.

Through contributing thoughtful questions and detailed answers, you will be rewarded by the user voting system. Repeatedly demonstrating expertise will bolster your reputation and earn your account a high ranking.

Stick to discussions that relate to your brand’s industry and field of specialization. Wandering too far away from it can be risky, especially if you get caught up in a controversial discussion. Also, you might want to fill out your profile and provide a link to your website.

Reddit

Overview

Reddit is sort of like a cross between a news aggregator and a message board. Each post contains a comment section, where responses are ordered by an “upvote” system. Interactions on the website are often humorous, though they are sometimes serious, and occasionally heated.

Reddit was founded in 2005 and has grown massively over the last 13 years. As of September 2018, it is the 5th most visited website in the United States and 15th in the world. Approximately 330 million active users access the site every month.

There is a lot of subtle marketing present on the platform. You should be warned, though: redditors don’t take kindly to blatant advertisements. They’re quick to roast and humiliate any business that dares to use their website as a promotional dumping ground.

Subreddits

Reddit is divided into a multitude of smaller forums known as subreddits. Each subreddit is dedicated to a particular topic, and has its own rules and moderation teams. Some subreddits are very broad and densely populated, while others are small and niche.

The key to posting on Reddit as a marketer is knowing where you belong, and then trying to blend in as best as you can. Attempt to be humble and honest, and resist the urge to sound like a sales pitch. Learn the community’s behaviors and language, and which content garners the most positive responses.

Advertising

Intimidated by the prospect of a Reddit backlash? That’s completely understandable. You could just go the traditional advertising route.

One option is the classic banner ad for large-scale advertisers. These usually appear in two places on the right-hand column, like so:

For smaller operations, Reddit offers Promoted Posts. These function like regular posts, except that they are clearly labeled and highlighted in the feed.

The only downside is that Reddit ads aren’t visible to visitors with ad-blocking software installed on their browser.

Snapchat

Overview

Snapchat was considered revolutionary when it made its debut in 2011. Unlike other social networks, its content isn’t permanent: the posts disappear after 24 hours.

The temporary nature of its content gives Snapchat a loose and casual vibe. You don’t have to worry about editing and getting the best image quality.

Eventually, other networks like Instagram seized the idea, and in many ways improved upon it. While this has led to a slight decline in Snapchat’s user base, the site still pulls in about 191 million users each day.

Audience

Snapchat’s audience tends to lean toward the younger side. Forty-five percent of its users are between the ages of 18 and 24, so it’s an ideal network to market on if your target demographics are teenagers and college-age adults.

Content

Snapchat isn’t a place for perfectionists. It’s not worth endlessly tinkering with lighting or color if it’s going to be gone after a day. Embrace a more relaxed and laid-back approach.

Give your followers a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of your brand. Tease upcoming products with exclusive sneak peaks. Reward your followers with coupons and codes. Take pictures and videos of live events. Do stuff that’s spontaneous and exciting and unpredictable.

Advertising

Snapchat offers a variety of advertising options, including full-screen ads, filters and face-changing lenses.

Tumblr

Overview

Tumblr is an intriguing social network for a few reasons. It’s like a cross between a blog site and Twitter, with an endlessly scrolling dashboard feed filled with text, image and video posts. It’s also prone to constant changes, and has evolved many times since it was launched in 2007.

The general tone of the platform is light and comical, with a heavy dose of creative and artistic sensibilities draped over it. You’ll find everything from memes and funny gifs to brilliant photography, drawings, music and animation.

Audience

Over half of its users are under the age of 34, with most of them in their 20s. They view Tumblr as a place to joke around, discuss their favorite television shows and enjoy some aesthetically pleasing content.

Brands that want to fit in on this platform should do some research first. Take a look at the content that your audience posts and reblogs, and make something along the same lines. However, it’s advisable to stay away from any contentious or polarizing subject matter.

Themes

Tumblr is one of the few social networks that allows you to completely customize the appearance of your page. You can either edit it yourself, hire a designer or download a premade theme.

First impressions are important. Pick a theme that dazzles viewers and communicates the personality of your brand.

Twitter

Overview

No other social network moves at the speed of Twitter. Ever since it arrived on the scene in 2006, Twitter has been at the forefront of breaking news and trends.

While there has been some debate lately about its longevity, given that its growth has slowed in recent years, it still attracts 335 million active users per month. That easily puts it among the most active social networks.

Twitter thrives on brevity. Even though it increased its character limit from 140 to 280 characters last year, the average tweet length has remained the same. So try to keep it short and sweet.

Some brands have found success in adopting a conversational demeanor and engaging in friendly banter with other accounts. Twitter users also seem to respond well to media content, particularly gifs and pictures.

Periscope

Periscope, a live-video streaming app for mobile devices, was acquired by Twitter months before its launch in 2015. It allows users to stream from their phone and get immediate reactions from their audience.

Marketing on Periscope usually involves broadcasting events to your audience, whether it’s a benefit concert or the reveal of a new product. You can even do a live Q&A where you respond to questions in chat.

Advertising

Twitter has advertising options to promote tweets and create full-scale campaigns.

WhatsApp

Overview

WhatsApp started as a messenger service that could be used whether you had an Apple, Android or any other device. It has since boomed into a massive network with over 1.5 billion monthly active users.

In 2014, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook. It currently features integration with both its parent company and Instagram.

Socialization

As a messenger service, interactions on WhatsApp come in the form of one-on-one conversations or group chats. You can use this as a chance to address concerns, resolve issues, give advice and take suggestions from your customers.

Business App

WhatsApp offers a Business App, which is built with small businesses in mind. It provides you with the ability to organize, prioritize and automate your messages.

YouTube

Overview

YouTube is as synonymous with video as Google is with search. It has almost become a reflex for many internet users to open up a YouTube tab the moment boredom strikes.

Since 2005, YouTube has amassed an enormous user base of over 1.5 billion monthly active users. These users typically watch an hour or more of content each day. In fact, the platform is set to dethrone television as the public’s preferred source for video entertainment.

YouTube is also a veritable playground for launching brands and turning people into overnight celebrities. Where else can somebody earn millions of dollars by playing video games or doing silly sketch videos with friends?

Brand Account

Before you start producing content, you want to be sure that you have a Brand Account. This will allow you to use a business name for the channel.

Don’t forget to pick out a good channel icon and cover art for your profile, and create a complete About page with information about your brand.

Production Value

Over 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. If you want to get noticed, you’re going to have to put some real effort into your videos. YouTube is a place where attention spans are low and competition is high.

Stand out from the crowd by beefing up your production values. If you can’t hire a professional crew to assist you, there are plenty of great tips and tutorials out there to help your videos look less amateur.

Post-Production

Editing software is an absolute necessity if you’re putting together your own videos. Some people put a lot of money into premium paid software, while others opt to work with more affordable alternatives. There are even free programs if you look hard enough for them.

Advertising

If you don’t want to run your own channel, you could always buy YouTube ads instead. Their ad formats include banner displays, transparent text overlays and short videos that play before the main content. Most video ads are 15-20 seconds in length, and there are options for them to be skippable or non-skippable.

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